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Sunday, July 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 13

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-59

Leviticus 13:2. Aaron or one of his sons were obliged to inspect every case of leprosy, the priests being best acquainted with the nature and progress of the complaint, and most concerned to keep the congregation pure.

Leviticus 13:6. The priest shall pronounce him clean. He could not heal, as did the prophet Elisha; he could only pronounce upon the case, whether clean or unclean. The mighty ado therefore of the popish priests on this head, comes to nothing, for the Hebrew priesthood could not cleanse. They had only the keys of the sanctuary to admit the pure, or repel the impure, from the altar. It is better to go with a leprous heart to Christ, the great physician and healer of the soul.


Having in the preseding chapter considered one kind of impurity, we have here another, loathsome in itself, and generally of long duration. The leprosy sometimes came in the course of providence; and sometimes it was inflicted because of sin, as in the cases of Miriam, of Gehazi, and others. It was one of the impurities which our Saviour cleansed; and as he was a spiritual physician, and improved his numerous miracles to that effect, we may affirm that a man covered with leprosy was a most striking figure of the whole human nature depraved by sin. What are those red and bright spots spreading in the flesh, but the crimes of men communicating infection to all around? What are those groups of wicked and ungodly men, but so many lepers all unclean; and whose words, and airs, and actions, spread the impurity to all around? What is all their display of pride, of anger, of voluptuousness, and all their dissipation, infecting the raiment, and the walls of the house, with the contagion of corruption, but a leprosy of long duration in the heart?

The leprosy was a cutaneous disease, loathsome to the sight: a person deeply infected was an object of revolting pity. But how much more loathsome and foul must sin appear in the eyes of God, who is all purity and perfection. Can he, who is kind and good to all, behold the evils which men commit one against another, and not be offended with the sight? No: he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and he has pronounced the sinner all unclean. This impurity separated a man from his house, and from the congregation of the Lord; and the sinner by his depravity is reduced to the same situation. His eyes, his looks, his whole deportment are unfit to be seen of the Lord. Let him dwell in solitude, and remember his sins. Let him consider, that if a cleansing do not follow, his soul shall be shut out from the city and sanctuary of the Lord, and he shall abide in darkness and death.

The leper was compelled to apprize all persons approaching him, of his impurity, by crying, unclean, unclean. So when the Lord’s hand shall be on the sinner, when his sins shall be arrayed against him, and when the terrors of God shall make him afraid, he shall no longer conceal, but publish his iniquity, and pray others to take warning by his errors.

It was an impurity which medicine could not remove. The physician could do nothing for his patient; nor could the priest do more than pronounce the man clean, or unclean. No: worldly physicians can do nothing with a conscience afflicted with sin, and fretting like the leprosy in a garment. Let not then the faithful minister be wanting to cleanse the congregation of the Lord, and to pronounce the warnings and denunciations of God against all wicked and ungodly men. In doing this, let him show no respect of persons. His bosom friend, his near kinsman, his own acquaintance must not be spared in his leprosy, which separates the soul from communion with God.

But there were some more favourable cases, in which the plague did not spread; the colour changed to dark, and assumed a healing appearance. In those cases, after a time of separation, the person was pronounced clean. There are also sometimes sins of surprise, highly culpable in themselves, which do not enter deep into the habits, and are abhorred in the heart; these sins, after unfeigned repentance, are forgiven, and the soul is restored to the favour and love of God. But let every man tremble at the idea of sin, for if once the plague be admitted to predominate in the heart, it is not possible to say what the consequences shall be. We conclude therefore by saying, that habitual sin is that impure and spreading leprosy which infects the whole soul, which communicates defilement through the whole circle of society, wherever it is touched, and from which there is no deliverance, but by an entire renovation of heart.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 13". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/leviticus-13.html. 1835.
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